Family and friends of Bettie Jones – the 55-year-old grandmother ‘accidentally’ shot dead by police in Chicago – said an emotional goodbye at her funeral on Wednesday.
Jones and Quintonio LeGrier, 19, were both killed by police on December 26 after cops responded to a report of a domestic disturbance.
The mother-of-five was laid to rest at New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, where 250 loved ones, including Reverend Jesse Jackson, gathered to pay their respects.
Jones was wearing a red dress and a tiara in her open casket as relatives stepped forward to say their final words to her, before her daughter Latonya told the congregation: ‘My mama didn’t deserve this.’
Latonya Jones added: ‘The day after Christmas, the police took my mama from us for no reason. All she tried to do was help them and this is how she gets repaid? We’re hurting right now, we’re crying because of these police.’
People laid bouquets of red roses next to her velvet red open casket, next to which sat a picture of the cartoon character Betty Boop – a name friends affectionately called the church-going mother.
The Chicago Tribune reported that booming gospel choir music was played as mourners – who were also dressed in red – listened to a number of touching eulogies.
In his eulogy, Pastor Marshall Hatch said: ‘Bettie is innocent.
‘There is nothing that she did that she should have done differently. There is no way she should have expected aggression from sworn officers of the peace. We have a right to expect the police to serve and protect.’
Rev Jackson also spoke at the funeral, telling the service that ‘when there is no safe place even in the home, life is diminished’.
Her grandchildren also spoke at the funeral early on Wednesday afternoon, with granddaughter Saniya Jones-Marzette thanking God ‘for waking us up this morning’.
‘We just ask you to pray over Grandma B.J.’s casket. We love her,’ she added.
One of Jones’ grandsons also paid tribute, saying she was his ‘motivation’ in life and that he would make her proud.
Many of the mourners at the funeral gathered at a visitation yesterday, where Jones’ nephew said she was the ‘glue … who kept everybody together’.
Marcus Andrews told the Chicago Sun-Times: ‘All she wanted was a family reunion. She wanted everybody to come together. It’s just crazy that it’s got to happen that everybody is coming together like this. It don’t make no sense.’
Jones’ niece Camila Andrews said her ‘kind-hearted’ aunt was ‘always willing to help out anybody’.
At a vigil last week relatives demanded Chicago police explain why they ‘shoot first and ask questions later’.
Jones, who hosted Christmas dinner for her family the day before she died, was a neighbor of LeGrier’s and lived in a first-floor apartment with her boyfriend.
Police say Jones was shot accidentally and autopsy results on Jones indicate a bullet hit her chest.
LeGrier, a college student, died from multiple gunshot wounds. Both deaths were listed as homicide by Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Jones’ family, in a wrongful death lawsuit, said she ‘faced a hail of bullets being fired by an on-duty Chicago Police Department officer at and in the direction of her home and her, with bullets going through the doorway, and through the walls of her home’.
Police issued a statement after her death saying officers ‘were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer’s weapon which fatally wounded two individuals’.
Police said Jones was ‘accidentally struck and tragically killed’ and offered condolences, according to the statement.